By RICK HIPSON
Rue Morgue had the opportunity to sit down with screenwriter, Bragi Schut (ESCAPE ROOM, SEASON OF THE WITCH, SAMARITAN), to chat about THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER, which he wrote the original screenplay for. The film, directed by André Øvredal and starring Javier Botet as Dracula, took theatres by storm on August 11. Considering the screenplay got passed around for about twenty years with various actors and directors being attached to it before Amblin and Universal Studios stepped up to the plate, Bragi and I had plenty to talk about regarding the film’s journey. I had a lot of fun discussing his reaction to seeing the final cut, and the answers he feels will finally be given regarding the doomed voyage of the Demeter ship and its terrified crew tasked with transporting Dracula across the seas to England.
Thanks so much for sitting down with me today, Bragi, to chat about THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER and your screenplay. I’m so you’re able to make it.
Thanks for inviting me.
Yeah, no, absolutely. I super appreciate all this; I’m going to jump into the question I’m sure is the billion dollar question you’re probably sick of answering already, so bare with me, please. I understand THE DEMETER has been about twenty years in the making if you count how long the scripts have been floating around. Would you mind walking us through when you first sat down to write the script, the process of completing it, and what some of those challenges were to finally get the cameras rolling to bring it to life?
I don’t know how far back you want me to go, but this is going back a ways. I remember, with me, it started with ALIEN—my love of ALIEN. I remember loving that movie and wanting to write something in that same space, that same style, that same terror, and every idea I came up with just felt like a rip-off of ALIEN, and I was very frustrated. Then one day I was working in a model shop—my first job out here I was working as a model maker, so you can tell how far back it is. There was a guy in the model shop who brought his portfolio in to show me one day, and I’m flipping through it, and he had all these incredible models, and there was a model of a ship with tattered sails and blood-streaked sails, and I said, “Oh, that’s incredible! What is that?” and he said, “That’s the Demeter. That was used in one or two shots in BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA.”
I had read the book, but I’d never thought of it, and then when I saw the miniature, I thought, Oh my God! I thought, that’s how I can do it. I can do my ALIEN, but in the past. Instead of a spaceship, it’s going to be a boat, and it’s going to draw on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s going to be that chapter. So, I ran home. I dug up my copy of Dracula, which I still remember. It’s here somewhere. It’s a very dog-eared copy. Then I looked at the Captain’s Log chapter, and I read it, and I remember thinking, okay, I can do this. There’s a lot of benchmarks here. There’s a lot of signposts here. I take those journal entries; I sprinkle them throughout. And it seemed very simple at first, and then, of course, when I got into it, it became much trickier. But I remember taking that book and getting… I was flipping back and forth through that thing so much that I was like, Okay, I need to get rid of the book. I just need those pages. I took it to a copy centre, and I made copies of those pages. I was referring to the journal and I remember I did the first draft – I outlined it first, and then I did the first draft. It was initially a challenge because you want it to line up, you want people who know the book and love the book, you want it to line up as much as possible. But it’s also only one chapter, and it’s a very brief chapter.
It’s only three pages.
Yeah, and so there were a lot of challenges in adapting it. You had to expand it, you had to be somehow faithful to the book, but you had to go beyond that because the book in that chapter… I have to be careful how I phrase this without stepping on any guardrails or spoilers, but the chapter has its limitations. It’s wonderful, and it’s probably my favourite chapter in the book, but there’s not much in there beyond the crew being attacked by something, being sort of picked off. It’s a Ten Little Indians kind of thing. The challenge was how do we expand this and make it its own story? How do you make that satisfying? In the context of the Dracula novel, the limited chapter works great because it’s framed by what comes before and after, and it doesn’t have to work as its own story. But in adapting it to its own, the challenge was how do you stay true to the book but bring new elements into it and new twists and surprises? How do you make it work as a movie?
Was that part of the – I don’t want to call it a delay because maybe there were developments that needed to happen during those twenty years, but was one of the challenges trying to get the script narrowed down, and possible having producers or directors say “I’m not really sure about this,” and then you take from that and add to it until you got to the script that we’re now going to get a chance to see this summer?
There were a lot of challenges. I mean there’s always these sorts of unspoken rules in Hollywood. Don’t do a period piece movie. Don’t shoot at the sea ‘cause it’s going to cost ten times as much. If you’re doing a horror movie, keep the budget down. The script, at every step I feel like, kind of violated all those rules. It was at sea. It was horror.
I think part of the challenge was that everybody wanted to do it right, and it was not ever going to be a five-million-dollar film. It wasn’t going to be a low-budget horror film. It has a certain scope and a certain… There were a lot of challenges, and I think it really took somebody like Amblin and Dreamworks coming on board to say, “No, we’re going to do this, and we’re going to do this right, and it’s going to be awesome. And if it’s a big leap of faith…” I don’t know. A part of me is still kind of stunned that it’s finally happened, because it’s more than twenty years now, and I know it came together so many times with different directors, where we felt like we were this close. We had Marcus Nispel and David Slade and Neil Marshall and a whole slew of talented directors who were passionate about it, and they would cut together sizzle reels, and they would get certain actors attached. I remember at one point, it was going to be Ben Kingsley and Viggo Mortensen and Noomi Rapace, and all these wonderful actors, and you get so excited. And then somebody would say, “You know what? This is too big; we can’t wrap our heads around it; it’s too risky.”—whatever the reasons are that people don’t swing at these things.
And every time it would be a crushing defeat to the point where I kind of had to emotionally just move on from it. I had to say, “Okay, Demeter, it was a wonderful script, a wonderful experience. It got me a lot of writing work in town, a lot of lunches and interviews and stuff. But it could be one of those things that never happens.” And then they generate these lists every year of the most famous unproduced scripts around, and I would see Demeter pop up on them occasionally. It was so painful like, “Oh, no! I’m that script, that’s the project.” Finally, the way I found out about it was really by chance. I had a producer friend who called me and said, “Hey, congratulations!” And I said, “For what?” And he said, “THE DEMETER.” And I was like, “Don’t even joke. What are you talking about?” And he said, “Amblin’s buying it. They’re going to make it. You didn’t hear this?” I’m like, “No, I didn’t.” I’m the last one to know.
The writer’s always the last one to know.
Yeah, literally the last one. So, I call my agency and I’m like, “I just got this crazy call from Craig Flores. Is DEMETER happening?” And they said, “Well, we don’t know. Let’s call them.” They called and we got word that yeah, they’re gonna make it. I couldn’t believe it. Even then I was kinda like, “Okay, I’ve been here before. Let’s wait.”
Then I started getting these wonderful text messages from the director, Andre Ovredal, and he would send me little questions and photos, and “Hey, what do you think of that? What was your idea with this? We’re thinking of shooting it in Malta and Germany”, and all this stuff started coming together. I remember at that point getting really excited, and it was just incredible.
I can only imagine. By that point, you must have felt like one of the unsung band of heroes that’s finally closing in on Dracula at his castle trying get there before the sun comes up.
Yeah. I feel like I’m slipping into hyperbole here a bit, but it’s been such a long road that it was a very interesting moment when it finally happened, and then the trailer. You know, I just finally had a chance to see the film, and it’s a wonderful experience.
When I was chatting with (director) Andre, I told him it seems like an almost impossible feat that you took three chapters from the Dracula novel and made an entire movie out of it. That said, within those three chapters, there’s so many unlimited possibilities of what could have happened exactly on that ship before the dead Captain arrived on the shores of Whitby. How did you narrow it down to what would eventually go into your screenplay?
It was a real challenge. From what I understand, they’re still fighting those battles in the editing room. I heard the other day there was the first cut with something crazy, like close to three hours. I’m not necessarily the one who fights all those fights. Originally, the first draft, I think, if I look in my files, it was probably 100, 122 pages. And then you cut that down to 115, 112. Part of the challenge was, finding ways to keep the… There’s a repetitive nature to the chapter. Everybody goes through it; they get picked off one by one. And so, it was finding ways to make that not feel repetitive in the movie, you know, to keep it interesting, and to have each one be a little different and have the steps that they do to prevent that. A lot of that wasn’t mentioned in the book. It’s not a secret that when these things happen in ALIEN or TEN LITTLE INDIANS or DEMETER, the crew is trying to survive and figure that out, and so a lot of it was “Okay, if I were really in this situation, what would you do?” Okay, the first one who goes missing, maybe that’s an accident. The second one who goes missing, okay, that’s weird. The third one, you’re freaking out. Making sure that it builds and builds and builds in a very realistic, tense way. I watched a lot of movies that explored that dynamic (and ask) what would I do on a ship where you can’t get away? It’s absolutely terrifying because you’re enclosed in this thing, you’re surrounded by water on all sides, no land in sight, and you know as soon as the sun goes down, you’re in terrible danger. I’ve spent some time on boats, so I know somebody has to be up there manning the wheel. That’s going to be a tense discussion of who’s going to take their turn tonight? And what do we do to protect that person? Obviously, you’re gonna want to search the ship. You’re gonna want to figure these things out. It was really fun trying to come up with all these things. I did a mental list and some of that is in the book—a lot of that is in the book. The Captain searches the ship, but that search, it was fun drilling into all those things, and so you end up with a really big script with a lot of material, and then you know it’s gotta dovetail back into the larger mythology, and you have to find a way to do that while still surprising people. It was definitely a fun exercise, and in a weird way I found it kind of comforting to have the log because it provides some structure, and so for a beginning screenwriter, I mean, I think Demeter was my second script? Third script?
Oh, wow! Okay.
Act Two is always a real challenge to write because it just goes on and on and on and on. It’s helpful sometimes to have some structure and to have some parameters. So my guiding light is really those entries, the Captain’s Log. I would look back at the logs, and I literally had maps, and I remember charting their course and putting pins in a map and drawing the line of the course that they took and trying to figure out that by the time they do this journal entry, they’re probably here so there could be a mention of how close they are to land or how many days away they are. It was sort of trying to connect a lot of pieces and trying to chart it out. I remember at one point, I got a little hung up on the boat itself, and a needing to—because that’s our world—and I wanted to know all the different parts of the boat. My experience with boats was, you know, my dad had a fifty-foot catch, and it was not terribly big. It’s a sailboat. I knew some of the sailing stuff. I knew the feel of being on a boat. I knew the feel of being in the ocean without land in site and that sort of endless rocking and the nights and all of that stuff. I knew a lot of the terms, but that’s a far cry from a schooner from back in the day. I was literally calling around to some museums.
I remember I found a museum in Maine that had old blueprints of old schooners, and I begged and pleaded, and I got them to send me some blueprints. And so then it was looking at the layout of the ship and realizing, okay, there is a little corridor there, and there’s a hold, and there’s the foredeck and the aftdeck, and that helped me kind of break up this story, and it presented new opportunities because then I’m like, “Okay, well, I definitely want to spend some time in this part of the boat, and I definitely wanna…” It opened up all kinds of new opportunities, so I feel like whenever you get stuck writing, if you drill into the research part, if you get stuck on the script and you put the script aside and say, “Okay, I don’t know enough about the boat yet. Let me get a bunch of blueprints in.” Then you start to look at those and you start to figure out “Okay, I have an idea. This is great.” And then you take that and you infuse it into the script and it makes it feel more real. I felt like I had a lot of help from unlikely sources. The original chapter was sort of the Bible for me, and then there were blueprints and nautical charts and things that helped me connect the whole story. And there were a lot of drafts in there. I did, I don’t know, seven or eight drafts on this script over the years. And then they had drafts from a lot of other writers who came in and out who put a lot of time and work into the script, and some of those drafts were unfortunately discarded. They didn’t work. They had this one element or that element. This is not the kind of script I could have written entirely on my own. There was a lot of input and a lot of thought, and Brad Fisher, the producer, lived with this almost as long as I have, and he and I would go through the script and talk about these things, and try to figure out each character in the book as described by name. There’s not much indication of their personalities and their character, traits, so it was sitting down and figuring out each of these characters. Who are they? What do they want? What are their fears? What are their hopes? What do they like? The crew came to life in that process., which was another fun step.
I can’t tell you how excited and encouraged I am to hear you talk the process because it seems you became the perfect guy to spearhead this script and get it out there. I think you did Bram Stoker proud because from everything I understand about Bram Stoker, the man and the writer, he was, if nothing else, he was extremely meticulous about all the research. It took him seven years to write the novel. In a lot of sections of it, certainly with the ship, it’s almost like a supernatural meta-fictional tale because you have so much realism put inserted right down to the weather patterns of the storm and how fast the wind was, and absolutely everything that went into that book. To hear you talk describe your process and how you took a similar path with your screenplay, I think is pretty incredible.
Speaking of having some additional support, I saw a writing credit for Zak Olkewicz. Did he come in a provide treatments to your screenplay, or how did that collaboration go if you don’t mind talking about that a bit?
I don’t know how he became involved. I wasn’t involved in his work. I saw the changes that he made. I saw his efforts on the script, and it’s hard to get into that without, you know, spoilers, so I can’t get much into that. But I will say that he definitely got the story and got the script, so his work was not, you know, there were some drafts that were done early on where writers were brought in—very, very talented writers—some guys whose work I know and love who came in and took very different approaches and really changed it quite a bit, and I think that was a bit of a thing where the producers thought, “Okay, no, this is no longer what… This isn’t the story. This has grown too much. It’s gone a little bit too far. Eventually they came back to my script, and when they brought Zak in, I think Zak got that we’re all trying to service this one chapter from the book. It’s supposed to be a voyage. It’s the Captain’s Log chapter, and so the changes that he made I feel—I’d be curious to hear what Zak’s impression was—but I feel like the changes he made were very targeted and very cognizant of the fact this has to connect to the mythology that Bram Stoker created, and this has to drop into that novel.
And yes, there are going to be twists and turns and surprises and things you don’t know from the book, but we’re not reinventing a whole new Dracula story. It’s not Dracula 2000. This is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s a part of the story nobody’s very familiar with, and it’s the part of the story that for me I always thought was the most interesting part of the book. I remember reading the Captain’s Log chapter and thinking, “Wow! I can’t believe nobody’s turned this into a movie yet. This could be its own story.” It was one of those ideas that I was grateful that, you know, I see a lot of movies that were like, “Damn! I wish I’d thought of that. That’s so good.” This is one that I feel like I managed to get in there. I had to look. I remember asking my manager at the time, “Nobody’s done Demeter before?” I think there was somebody who did one, but I looked, and I couldn’t find it. There was some stuff after us. Somebody did a comic book that I think they literally took our title, Last Voyage of the Demeter, and they did a comic book, and I remember… I don’t own it. The book is public domain, so anyone can do that story. It’s what you bring to it. How do you do it? How do you execute it? But, yeah, it was one of those ideas that I was very grateful that nobody had thought to do before. And I think Zak got that, too, and was like, “Yeah, this has to connect. This has to feel like it’s part of the Dracula mythology from the novel.” And the challenge is being faithful to that and finding new material and growing it.
Yeah, absolutely. I’m glad you mentioned that because I wanted to ask you what exactly stood out for you about that portion of the Dracula novel. And I a hundred percent agree with you; that’s one of my favourite parts. If you had to narrow it down to the most pivotal section of the book, it’s when Dracula leaves Transylvania. Dracula manipulates all the pawns in place to get to Europe where he can expand his reign on the other side of the world.
When it comes to film and stories, my tastes are pretty simple. I like really scary stuff, and I like creepy setups. I mean ALIEN is a wonderful set up. It’s a bunch of space truckers stuck on a ship with an alien that’s picking them off one by one. Also, PREDATOR and THE THING, these are the things I grew up with as a kid and I’ve always loved monsters, and I’ve always thought there was an opportunity for somebody to write—and probably somebody has–a really good book on monsters and the different things they tell us about ourselves and all the different kinds of monsters that there are out there. Dracula has been done a lot, but in exploring the voyage, I think there’s an opportunity to explore him in a way that hasn’t been explored before. I mean, we know the idea of Dracula as a seducer and as this sort of romantic malevolent devourer. I think of the Bela Lugosi Dracula and all these sorts of endlessly hungry seducers, and we saw an opportunity to explore an element of him that’s less familiar. He’s on the ship, and if you read that chapter, you’ll see that he doesn’t appear the way you think of in your mind when you think of Dracula. In that chapter, he’s a little different so we have the opportunity to explore that and show people the more terrifying side of Dracula, which is…I’ll leave it at that.
I know. It’s so hard, especially when you’ve just seen it and you’re so excited about it. From what I understand of the film, it really hammers home the very insidious face that is Dracula, that he’s more than a manipulator and a seducer like you said.
Yeah, and there’s also a really fun investigative element to be explored with this chapter because the crew of the boat, they’re completely separate of the rest of the story. They don’t know what is coming. They don’t know what they’re dealing with, so there’s this terror that I think is–it’s one thing if you’re dealing with the other characters in the book who have some knowledge of what’s going on. They’ve figured out a little bit more of what’s happening. The crew is completely in the dark about all of this, so there’s a degree of terror there. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like. I mean, we had to imagine it, but you gotta assume it’s more terrifying for them because they’re just hired to bring these crates from point A to B, and then one by one they start disappearing and getting picked off. It’s a very fun set up, and I can’t wait for people to see it.
I might already know the answer to this one, but I’m curious if I’m wrong. I know it’s pretty common that when you’re a screenwriter, once the working script is on set and the filming begins, the screenwriter usually becomes off-grid at that point. Was that the case for this movie as well, or did you do any kind of rewrites as it was going?
Unfortunately, I was not there when they shot it, and I do kind of miss that, but it was the pandemic.
It was the fact that I’m a dad with three kids, and I’m working on new assignments. So, Andre kept me in the loop, and he was really wonderful. He would send me photos from set, which I can never share.
Oh, that’s cool.
The pictures, I don’t know whether it was him with his cell phone or whether (it was) some photographer. Who knows? But he would send me stuff, and I remember seeing things come to life and seeing the photos of the ship being built and seeing the bulwarks before they’d even put the hull on it and stuff, and saying, “Wow! They’re going big with this. That ship is going to be huge and seeing it all come to life. I was looking for little things. I just wanted to see that it was going to feel really old and rundown, and that the wood would feel like it was really lived in. I wondered, “Well, are they going to have it really clean and new? Is it going to be really textured wood? Are the crates going to have the Dracula symbol on them?” I had all these questions, and then I started seeing these pictures come in, and it was just wonderful. It was like images that I’ve had in my head longer than anyone except, except for Stoker. I was seeing it finally come to life. It was a real treat. I wasn’t there. I wish I could have been, but I did get to see some of it thanks to the generosity of Andre sharing these images. I remember he sent me the picture of the first day shooting of the slate and stuff, and of the steering wheel.
On one hand you must have been pinching yourself, but at the same time, how do you get a good night’s sleep when you know this is getting made right.
Despite the anticipation and the expected success of this film, Bragi, the fact getting this film made has been such a long slog from the start to where it is now that I can only imagine how exhausting a journey it must feel like for you. Would you consider, at this point, you’re kinda done with Dracula, or are you hoping to resurrect any additional incarnations of our favourite Count based on what you’ve accomplished with this film?
I would love to. It’s been so long since I’ve played in that sandbox that I’d certainly have ideas. I don’t know if there’s an appetite for a sequel. All of those answers are a little further down the road.
If somebody were to call me and say, “Hey…” You know it’s not going to be Demeter 2 because we know where the book has to go.
That ship doesn’t go back.
Yeah, no return trip. But there’s definitely a lot of ideas I still have on it. I would be very intrigued if the movie is as big a hit as I expect and hope. I would totally love to play in that space again. The universal horror stuff, and that sort of period piece horror has always been something I’ve really enjoyed and been very intrigued by. I feel like in the past five, ten years there’s been a big shift where people are more receptive and open to period piece stuff and more open to fantasy and fantasy horror. I mean, Game of Thrones would have never happened twenty years ago. Now every single fantasy book, every single creepy thing you can imagine is being done and it’s mainstream, and people they don’t shy away from that as much anymore. I get why (this movie) took twenty years, but my hope is there’s more of an appetite for that stuff now. And I feel like if it’s a success, there’s certainly more to be done here, and I would love the chance to do it. We have to see how people respond to the movie then figure out what going back to the story would look like. What would it involve?
Because you mentioned you’re curious about people’s responses, I’m curious about your response. When you finally got to see the final cut of the film, or what’s at this point the final cut of the film, were there any–It’s maybe kind of hard to answer without giving away too many spoilers–But were there any sections of the film that surprised you as far as how they handled that section of your script?
Oh, yeah. I’ll tell you a funny story about this. I got a text from the producer saying, “Hey, do you want to see it? We have a cut.” And I’m like, “Of course I want to see it.” So Brad Fisher sent me up with a screening, and I just took a hooky day. I told my wife, “Hooky day. C’mon, we’re gonna go see DEMETER.” She said, “You can bring me?” I said, “Yeah, of course I can.” So, we went in and had a chance to go into Amblin, which is always a treat just ‘cause we’re all huge Spielberg fans. So, I got to go into Amblin, and there’s a screening room there which I’ve never been in before, but it is a real treat. It’s a beautiful little screening room and they have their own little concession stand on the side.
Oh, that’s cool.
Yup, it was great. You could get whatever you want out of there. My wife and I are looking at each other because I think we’re the only ones in the room. There might have been one other person, you know, in the back behind us. And so we sit down, and I’m terrified because this is a movie that I had in my head for twenty years, and I have all the faith in the world in Andre. I was a fan of TROLL HUNTER when it first came out, so I was very excited and hopeful, but very nervous, as you can imagine. And I sit down, and my wife is not a horror fan at all. She can’t handle horror. She gets very freaked out. So, she’s sitting next to me, and I’m sort of half watching the movie, half watching her to see, because it’s so familiar to me that it’s hard for me to be objective about it because I lived through so many drafts and so many ideas and conversations and all this stuff.
You know what’s gonna happen.
I know what’s gonna happen, so I can never see it with new eyes, which is… It’s a pity. That’s the irony of being a screenwriter is that we go into these movies more than anyone, and then we can’t enjoy them the way the audience does because we’ve already lived the story in our heads, but we still enjoy it, but it’s a little different. So, anyway, I sit down and watch the movie. Katie’s next to me, and it starts. And I’m just loving it because I’m recognizing it, and it feels like the story that I had in my head, like these were images that he’d pulled right out of my brain. I’m recognizing dialogue and moments and characters, And it was wonderful. And then Katie, my wife, starts grabbing my arm and squeezing my arm. I loved it because it was more intense than I expected. He is not messing around. Andre did not pull any punches. It is terrifying. And I’m not just saying that to plug the movie. I’ve got several credits at this point, and I remember with DEMETER, I remember being a little bit shocked at where he went with it and how far he took things in it, how tense it was. And yeah, Katie went under my elbow. For half the movie she’s like this, and so I thought, “Oh, this is getting very tense.”
Sorry, not sorry.
Yeah, I would say of my reaction, I’ll just say that I was thrilled and loved it, and I texted Brad leaving; I just said, “Thank you, you guys. You did such an awesome job. It’s wonderful.” And I was very excited, and I haven’t had a chance to tell Andre yet because I don’t have Andre’s cell phone. He’s hard to get a hold of on Facebook, but it’s a wonderful, wonderful movie, and I’m very excited to see what people think. And I’m hoping at some point, too, that I’ll get to see that longer cut. I want to see all of it. I want to see the stuff that didn’t make it. I’m a fan of director cuts.
Me, too. I love that kind of stuff and special features. Oftentimes I’ll get some spoilers because I watch that stuff first before I watch the main movie.
It’s a beautiful-looking film. It’s terrifying. It’s really got a wonderful propulsive quality. It feels like it’s over so quickly, you know. That’s why I’m like, let’s get the longer cut on the DVD or something. I’m excited. And there’s still three months. I assume they’re still finessing and doing work on it and notes and stuff. But I mean it was a very rich world, and I remember the mood and the atmosphere of it very Gothic and spooky and terrifying. And I wasn’t sure how far he would go with some of this and how terrifying he would make it, and he just decided to swing for the fences because there was definitely some stuff that was more brutal and terrifying than I expected.
I can’t wait. I feel like there’s a little mouse in my head that just keeps scratching at that anticipation. I’m really, really excited to see this. And Bragi, it’s been, of course, not only the twenty years from getting the script out here but it’s really been 126 years now since the Demeter sailed into our lives and became part of the legend that is Dracula. During that time, everybody that’s read the book, me included, has always wondered: Okay, so what the heck happened on the ship before it crashed on the shores of Whitby, with the Captain’s corpse and the big black dog that—we all know who that was—ran off into the graveyard, into Whitby. Do you feel seeing the film is going to answer that, or is the mystery of what really happened going to continue?
I don’t think you’re going to leave the movie and wonder what happened. The movie is the answer to what happened. The movie is the exploration of the journey. It’s the story of those sailors on this doomed passage, and it’s the story of their battles. They’re trying to understand what’s happening to them, trying to prevent it from happening to them. And there are plenty of surprises coming. We all knew going into this we had to take that chapter and make it work as its own movie. And so, part of that was expanding that world, trying to stay true to it, but expanding it and that means bringing more depth to all those characters, showing what happens between those journal entries, showing the spaces that aren’t written down, showing what is done to try to protect themselves and to fight off this creature. Will people still have questions about the overall mythology of Dracula? Is there opportunity for more story and more road to cover at the end of this? Yeah, I mean that’s what’s so wonderful. The reason I think that Dracula has endured and become arguably the most famous horror novel ever written. I mean, it’s either that or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. But the reason I think it’s endured so long is that people just keep discovering more and more stuff in there. They keep discovering new ways to explore that story.
In a weird way, I feel like ours is a throwback to the original because Dracula has been taken in so many different directions now. We’ve got the comedic version in RENFIELD and that’s not the only comedic version. It’s been spoofed, and it’s been deconstructed, and it’s been modernized, but it’s been a while since we’ve gone back in time to the original book. And part of that was trying to look at that original story as if this is the tone, this is the monster, this is the creature. We’re going to take this chapter that has all these questions in it, and we’re going to expand it and try to tell you what happened to the crew. I’m sure people will still have questions about the world and about the mythology, but if they have questions about the voyage, if they want to know what happened, this is the answer. This is the movie. This is the story.
Thanks again for all your time here, Bragi, and for giving us that answer, for adding to the legacy of Dracula, for making him scary. I just can’t wait. Any last thoughts you want to let everybody know about here before we part ways?
I don’t think I have any fun, little anecdotes or fun things I can share. No, I think we covered so much. [Retrieves a strange-looking object from his shelf.] This thing here is from when I was getting all into Dracula and researching my story. (The object is a familiar-looking silver dragon’s head.)
Oh, wow. That’s from Dracula’s cane.
When I was in that model shop, one of the guys in the model shop, the same guy who had worked on the ship had built this little prop.
So, I said — “Do you have the mold?” And he said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Would you pour me a resin cast of the actual headpiece of this stuff so I can just have it while writing the script? If I ever reach a moment I can’t figure something out, I’ll just hold this.” He told me, “Yeah, I’ll pour you a mould.” This is the dragon staff that Gary Oldman uses in BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, the one he walks around with. This was with me during the script.
Very cool. That’s very cool, so you can literally rub the legend on you. That didn’t sound right.
If I need an idea, I just scratch my head with this and then, “Okay, here we go again.”
That’s great. Writer’s block, what’s that? That is fantastic. Again. I cannot wait to see THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER.
Thank you. I hope you like it, and thanks again for the opportunity.